Some days, I simply feel like an incredibly selfish person.
Because I allow myself time to do the things that I love, the things that nurture my soul and enliven my spirit.
And why does this joy also go hand in hand with guilt? Because we are led to believe that doing the things that we love the most are often self indulgent. In the back of our mind is always the million other things that we feel like we ‘should’ be doing.
When we pick up a paintbrush, the unwashed load of laundry eyes us with horror from the corner of the room. When we lay down mid afternoon with a novel in hand, the unpaid bills gasp in amazement from their unopened envelopes on the kitchen bench. When we take a morning walk in the sunshine, a list of to-dos await our return at the front door, its arms crossed and eyebrows downturned, causing us to slink through the doorway, shamefully bowing our head and mumbling apologies.
How many times have you skipped a yoga class because there are so many other things that you really ought to be prioritizing? How many times have you shunned your patient yoga mat in the corner of the room and decided that even a 20 minute home practice will have to wait until later? How many times have you lay in savasana and instead of bathing in post yoga bliss, you are writing a shopping list in your head and figuring out how to make up the last 90 minutes you have allowed for yourself when the kid’s homework needs checking and the dogs need walking?
We can be so loving and compassionate to the people that make up our precious lives and yet we can be so dismissive of allowing ourselves time to do the things that we know will make us better people. The very things that make the tribulations of day to day life seem so much more manageable.
I snuck out of the house at dawn today when the first shards of light filtered through the windows and the first disjointed bird calls found my waiting ears. I left my beautiful boyfriend deep in dream worlds and I went and found the familiar comfort of my yoga mat. After moving through a practice aimed to wake my body enough to catch up to my racing mind, I left the house for the ocean’s shore.
I wandered aimlessly and joyously in the quiet of the morning, subtly thrilled by the fact that my footprints were the only ones on the unblemished sand, that this strip of pristine earth remained my own hidden sanctuary for the duration of my walk and back again. Homeward bound, I stopped at my favorite café, I sipped chai and wrote in the sunshine. Words always seemed to pour with ease from my fingertips at this hour of the day, when the chatter of the mind was still at bay and the world around me was still quietly waking.
It was a few precious hours of complete self-indulgence. Diving fully into the things that give me the most pleasure and joy. And the entire time, in the back of my mind, nagging at my heart strings and consciousness, rests a little voice that prevents me from fully surrendering. Guilt settles into my cells alongside bliss and it seems the two emotions have learned to co-exist, for rarely does simple bliss find permission to reside alone.
I had done nothing wrong, but at some point, fulfilling our souls desire became a crime, a mission deemed unworthy of pursuing.
When we look back on our lives, will we be glad that we paid those pesky bills, that we did that load of washing or that we scrubbed the bathroom tiles until they gleamed?
Or will we be thankful for the sunrise beach walks, the novels devoured like ice-cream on a scorching summers day, the hours spent on a yoga mat, in the garden, in a hammock or with a guitar in hand?
I think if we took time each and every day to do one thing for ourselves that we loved, that the world would truly be a better place. For when we feel fulfilled, enlivened and inspired, that is what we share with the world.
So, this is my challenge to you…
Do something you love today. With absolute permission from yourself. Forget the things that need to be doing, they are not going anywhere. Bathe in the joy that comes from doing what makes your heart sing. And leave guilt behind at the door.
Like elephant journal on Facebook
Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Bryonie Wise